Politics and Youth

April 8, 1970

Report Outline
Youth Involvement in American Politics
Protest Outside the Political Process
Political Outlook for Young Americans
Special Focus

Youth Involvement in American Politics

American youth has injected new uncertainties into politics this election year and in the foreseeable future, regardless of whether the voting age is lowered to 18 across the nation. Party leaders, Democrat and Republican, cannot erase from mind the student volunteers in the 1968 McCarthy campaign who moved the anti-war feeling of the campus into the precinct and by doing so helped to force President Johnson into retirement. But politicians are also aware that many young voters may be more conservative than is generally assumed.

Seven million college students form the biggest bloc of new and potential voters and are considered the most mercurial politically. They show far less attachment to the political process. A key question is how many will “opt out”—decline to go to the polls either from disinterest or from conviction that their vision of America cannot be realized by the ballot. Voters in the younger age groups traditionally show the worst voting records, a finding reconfirmed as recently as December 1969 in a Gallup poll.

Potential Impact of Teen-Age Voting Proposals

Older Americans generally do not cherish the thought of sharing political power with their unpredictable offspring. But young people are becoming too numerous to ignore at the polls or elsewhere, and for this reason it has been argued that 18-year-old voting is “an idea whose time has come.” About 27.5 million Americans will be between ages 21 and 30 by mid-1970 and will constitute 22.5 per cent of the electorate, according to current estimates of the Census Bureau. Persons of ages 18 to 21 number almost 11 million in 1970 and will exceed that total by 1972, the first year in which they would become eligible to vote under a bill already passed by the Senate and sent to the House, where concurrence was awaited almost daily.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Protest Movements and Counter Culture
Jun. 05, 2020  Corporate Activism
May 01, 2020  Global Protest Movements
Jan. 05, 2018  Citizen Protests
Aug. 28, 1998  Student Activism
Jan. 04, 1991  The Growing Influence of Boycotts
Aug. 22, 1986  Student Politics 1980s Style
May 13, 1983  Christian Peace Movement
Apr. 08, 1970  Politics and Youth
Nov. 19, 1969  Challenges for The 1970s
Aug. 21, 1968  Reorganization of the Universities
Jan. 10, 1968  Universities and the Government
Jan. 03, 1968  Peace Movements in American Politics
Oct. 12, 1966  Alienated Youth
Feb. 24, 1966  Protest Movements in Time of War
May 19, 1965  Campus Unrest
Aug. 14, 1963  Mass Demonstrations
Dec. 11, 1957  Student Movements
Aug. 17, 1939  Conscientious Objection to War
Voting and Suffrage